The former Charlton Town Hall will remain a central part of this small but tight-knit Saratoga County community.
Recently renamed the Charlton Community Center, the old building on Charlton Road is now being used as the home base of the Charlton Senior Citizens and is available to other community groups.
Since town government moved to a new building up the street last July, the old hall has received donations of furniture far more comfortable than the stiff wooden chairs the Town Board had for its meetings.
The former assessors’ office has also been turned into a small kitchen, using donated materials.
The various improvements will formally be unveiled Wednesday at a “thank you” reception for town officials and the people who helped.
“We’re really pleased with what has occurred here,” said Marv Schorr, president of the Charlton Senior Citizens.
The seniors’ group, which is now five years old, anticipates using the community center two or three days a week for exercise classes, meetings, and a monthly book club.
Town Supervisor Alan R. Grattidge said he is also pleased with the building’s transformation.
“There were always concerns the town was going to abandon the building, but from day one it’s been our plan to reuse it,” Grattidge said.
The building was built in 1892 as the Knights of Pythias meeting hall. It became Town Hall in the 1970s.
“It was really a community-use building back in the 1800s,” Grattridge said.
But the building’s layout, with tiny offices built around a single large meeting room, became impractical for modern town government, and that led to construction of the new Town Hall, a two-story colonial-style building that opened last July.
By then, it was clear the senior citizens group wanted to use the old building.
Grattidge said the Saratoga County Office for the Aging had $10,000 available to buy tables and chairs, and later came up with another $5,000 grant for kitchen installation.
The town received a refrigerator, sink, microwave, counters and a set of quality kitchen cabinets from town residents Fred and Lovie Bourne, who donated them because they were remodelling their kitchen and installing new appliances.
Some businesses offered discounted materials to the town, and Ken Hayner of Davis Builders installed the floor and the donated kitchen.
“We really have a lot of people to thank,” said Midge Dube, the founding president of Charlton Senior Citizens.
Grattidge said the town decided not to allow a stove or dishwasher to be installed in the kitchen, because the building continues to have a shared septic system with the Charlton firehouse next door, and the town doesn’t want to tax the system.
“We don’t anticipate it becoming a meals site or anything like that,” Grattidge said.
Several sofas and comfortable chairs have been donated by local people and set up in a living-room style arrangement in one corner of the meeting room. A small lending library has been started. A piano has also been donated.
“Now we have the homey atmosphere, with the new tables and chairs,” Schorr said.
The senior citizens meetings currently draw 40-50 people, Schorr said, and the Charlton Chatters Book Club attracts 10-14 people to its monthly meetings.
“Since we have this, it’s been nice and inviting,” said Lynn Barber, co-coordinator of the book club, which was started at the same time as the senior citizens group.
The community center is also available to other Charlton non-profit groups. Anyone interested in using it should contact the town clerk’s office.